Friday, 1 June 2012

super bank holiday

Well, apparently the Queen has failed to die.

I mean, that's basically what we're celebrating.  Now that the monarchy has no actual power and is essentially just a figurehead she can't really achieve anything as such.  She hasn't invaded France and claimed its throne, for example, which seemed to be one of the main defining characteristics of past monarchs.

And I'm pretty sure she's never crushed the Scots, as the National Anthem claims, if I recall correctly.

So yeah, we have a super bumper double bank holiday weekend.  Only one is a genuine addition to the calendar - the other has been achieved by shifting the usual end of May holiday.

I don't really have any plans for this extra time off.

I do have a couple of things on my PVR that I've stacked up, these being the most recent series of Being Human and the second series of the Walking Dead.

The first I'd originally planned to watch in my most recent holiday, but the sudden shift to having loads to do meant I never really even started on them.  The second is just a reflection of the fact that several other things I've been doing have been eating up all of my free time.

In particular I've been shedding anime DVDs, which has meant I've been ripping them and scanning the covers and extras.  Neither of these is difficult though both take time.  It's also pretty time consuming doing all the e-baying, as I've discussed on previous occasions.

The other thing of course is the whole job hunting, which has proven really quite time hungry.  I mean, I knew it would absorb some time, but I've been taken aback by just how much time it's absorbed.

As such I'll probably use the bank holidays to watch stuff, although I also really want to give my car a good clean.  I'd actually been hoping that my landlord would go on the holiday that he postponed from earlier in the year; however that seems to have been almost permanently abandoned.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

interview too

Had my second interview yesterday.

Well, actually I had my 2.5'th interview, but that doesn't entirely make sense.  What I mean is I had my second face-to-face interview having also had 1 telephone "interview" (it was more like a quick chat).

The telephone interview was Monday lunchtime and it went surprisingly well.  The company is quite technical and has a particular product market they're in.  Obviously I won't give too many details, but it's a particular market niche and they're very strong in it.

My only fear on it is that that's all they do although there was a hint they are moving into a slightly different, but very related sector.

I'm not sure I really discussed the first face-to-face interview.  It went well, but I had a long conversation with my dad about it (mainly for him to act as a soundboard) and it kinda confirmed that I want to move out of the market sector I'm currently in.

The company I work for is very much focused in that sector and while I don't have any problem if the company I move to works in that area too, I'd at least like it to be one of many feathers in their bow, as opposed to all they do.  And this other company are entirely focused on that sector too.

The difficult thing about it is that they almost head-hunted me and I think I would have been perfect for the role.  Indeed, in a way that was the other problem - it sounded like it would have been really similar to my current job.  The upside is it sounded like it wouldn't have had some of the issues I have with current job, but overall it just didn't feel right.

The other face-to-face interview didn't go so well.

It was with a much larger organisation, which is another element I'm considering (size of company), and they too are technology and product based, which is what I want to move towards, rather than the consultancy my current company is focused on.

I say it didn't go well - it wasn't a disaster, it was more like I didn't really gel with the guy who would be my boss.  I was quite good at answering the questions, though I did struggle on some of them.

It also seemed to take ages (suggesting I perhaps wasn't enjoying it?) and by the time it got around to the bit where I asked questions I was rather drained and my mind had gone a bit blank.  I had some pre-prepared questions, but they didn't really seem appropriate on the whole, given the nature and size of that business (t's a very different world).

They also gave me some tests to do and, to be frank; I think I basically failed at the first one.  The problem was they said was to review a proposal but you only had 20 minutes to do it and they said not to worry about content.

If I was doing a last minute quick review content is all I would worry about, not format, which is what they seemed to imply it was about.

The other test I felt I did better on, but it's more like I enjoyed it more.  The second test was about doing content review - were they answering the questions that were being asked, essentially.  This is much more up my street and I almost rewrote the entire document.  They'd turned track changes on and it was just a sea of changed stuff when I'd finished.

Whether I'd done it right or not I haven't a clue, but I certainly enjoyed doing it more.

However, overall I don't think I want to pursue the job and to be honest I'm not sure they'll offer it.

I have a few more irons in the fire.  The telephone interview wants to see me in person and a couple of recruiters have actually tried contacting me, which is nice.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

gadget show... ish

They broke the gadget show.

Or should I say they made the Gadget Show "World Tour" instead and it's not quite as good.

I thought I'd give it a few weeks for it to bed in.  I didn't want to be all knee-jerk reaction or pre-judging it.  But it's been a few weeks and I'm afraid it's just not quite working for me.

I have a couple of big issues with the new format.  The first is the dumping of three of the presenters in favour of keeping just two of them.

One of the things that worked with the 5-person team was that you had a mix of personalities.  There was crazy and shouty and considered and gently spoken.  It meant they could tailor the presenters to the situation.

But the two that are there now - Polly and Jason - are very similar on screen and they're both "up" and not a little bit shouty.  It makes the whole thing very samey and when they get them to do something that would have suited some of the other presenters (Jon in particular) it just ends up feeling... awkward.

Another issue is that the whole point of this is that it's the Gadget Show World Tour, but what does that actually mean?

So they've basically been to:

  • Japan
  • Monaco (& the med)
  • California
  • New York
  • The UAE (& other bits of the Middle East)

And this week they're going to be in Britain.  (I'm writing this the week before so the last episode will have aired by the time I post it - and apparently that is it - a 6 week show where the Gadget Show of old used to bring a ray of sunshine into my week for half a year at a stretch).

As a world tour that's pretty main stream and, tbh, reads a bit more like a set of possible holiday destinations.  And that's what each episode has felt like - like travel programs showing whacky things for you to do and with a few random gadget tests thrown in for good measure.

The basic reasons for going on a "world tour" just aren't at all clear.  Now the first episode actually held some promise that it might work.  When they went to Japan they went to see the latest version of Asimo and also in each episode there are little bits of possible future tech.

And if that was the purpose of the program - going to see future ideas and the very latest gadgets before they hit the streets, expanding up on the little segments they used to have where they'd go see some weird robots or similar, then it would be okay.  The trouble is those are still only small segments.

Instead it's like they've tried to keep the same format for the old show, it's just now they're doing it in another country instead of in a studio.  Why exactly?

However, the challenges, which came to form a big part of the show, have basically collapsed.  Oh they still present some stuff as challenges, but the competitive element has had to die and they generally feel small, rushed and simple.  In most cases we basically just get Jase trying out some whacky thing you could do on holiday with Polly acting as a cheerleading squad from the side-lines.

It all feels like a wasted opportunity.

And don't get me started on the weird bits where they seem to be interviewing Polly & Jase about what they're showing us.  Those are totally daft - they break the flow, are often tonally the opposite of what you're watching and seem like a sticking plaster because they later realised Polly & Jase running about and shouting doesn't actually tell you anything about how good / bad the watch / 3D TV / Coffee Maker is.

Monday, 28 May 2012

monaco gp & eurovision

It was the Monaco Grand Prix this last weekend.

As I was saying on Friday the Monaco Grand Prix can be terribly dull and I'm afraid to say this weekend's race didn't really thrill me.  The problem really came down to the issue that overtaking at Monaco is incredibly difficult.

At the end of the race there were 5 of the top drivers all lined up behind Webber and none of them really had a go at overtaking.  It was also very long.  Street circuits tend to produce long races because, although the tracks are often short so they do lots of laps but the speeds are low and so they take ages.

I actually nearly fell asleep at one point, though I have to admit that was also partly due to the fact I was up late and had a few frothy bevvies the night before.

The race did produce a new record, though; in that we've had six different drivers win all six of the races so far.  There is a good side to this in that it means the championship is all really close, but I have to say it's a bit too random for my liking.

While it's not good when you have 1 driver and team that utterly dominates, I'm also not really enjoying this situation where 1 race one team is dominant and then the next race they're crap and someone else is utterly dominant.  I'm hoping when they work the tyres out a bit more then things will settle down a bit.

The reason for the late night drinking was Eurovision.  It snuck up a bit on me this year, actually.  I don't ever remember it clashing with Monaco before - perhaps they've moved it because of the Jubilee and Olympics (the BBC is one of the core organisations of the European Broadcasting thing that puts it together)?

Anyway, because of it sneaking up I actually recorded it and watched it on delay.  This proved advantageous as the show was incredibly long.  The worst part of it now is the voting, which takes an hour and a half because there are forty-odd countries involved (they also have semi-finals nowadays so that only 26 songs appear on the final night) and once it became clear that the UK wasn't in contention I really skimmed through the voting at high speed.

Our result wasn't surprising - the song was a ballad and okay but quite lumpy.  It was also sung by Engelbert Humperdinck and while he gave it his all it was clearly just an old man singing an okay song.  I'm not sure fit eh plan was to pick up the grey vote, but if so it was a bit flawed as I think it's mainly young people that actually vote.

This is evidenced by the fact that the winner was an unashamed piece of Europop.  If it had been on Radio 1 and the DJ had said it had been written by David Gueta you wouldn't have been surprised.

The thing I was mainly thankful for was that the Russian Grannies didn't win.  It was a truly awful and quite cynical on some levels attempt to garner votes and it did well, but thankfully some people saw sense.  I think it probably helps on that front that each country has a team of judges as well as the telephone vote.